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Ferrell making his mark

Sunday, August 5, 2007

(Photo)
Ty Ferrell sings a rope above his head before attempting to hook the hind legs of a steer.
SIKESTON -- When the 55th Annual Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo begins Wednesday evening, folks from all over the country will be gearing up for another great year of riding, roping and bull fighting.

One cowboy in particular -- Ty Farrell -- is getting ready for his second stint in the local rodeo, a local resident himself.

The Sikeston native is set to compete in the team roping competition for the second straight year. Ferrell, a graduate of Sikeston High School in 2000, was the Bulldogs' varsity quarterback his senior year, leading them to a 6-4 record, including a victory over North County, which was ranked No. 2 in the state that season.

Alongside will be his roping teammate John Paul Fowler, from Piedmont. Ferrell hopes that his season of success can continue in front of local friends and family.

"It's great to be involved in our Jaycee rodeo. It's pretty cool to grow up watching the rodeo every year, and now, it's especially neat to be able to compete in front of all my friends who've attended the rodeo with me," Ferrell said. "Sikeston's rodeo is also the biggest paying event on the circuit. That's a big plus, too.

(Photo)
Sikeston native and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association member Ty Ferrell attempts to stop on his horse after roping a steer.
"The event we're in, team roping, requires a lot of teamwork."

Team roping, known as the only true team event in rodeo, involves a lot of hard work, practice and teammates working together. A cowboy called a "header" ropes a steer first around the horns, then another cowboy known as a "heeler" attempts to rope the steer's hind legs. The clock stops when the team has caught the steer, no slack is seen between the two ropes and their horses are facing each other.

Ferrell and Fowler have been roping partners for only this season on the Great Lakes Circuit, but have managed pretty good success thus far.

"We're winning a few here-and-there," Ferrell said. "The fuel prices have gone way up, so there's not as many guys traveling to every event. But we manage to travel every weekend, and right now, I believe we're sitting in third place on the circuit."

The Great Lakes Circuit is a division of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. With $3,911, Ferrell has won the third highest amount of money among heelers. Fowler ranks seventh among headers with $3,382.

They grew up in the 4-H program together, one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, in which youngsters are taught organizational skills through volunteering in their local communities. Ferrell said that he started doing 4-H events when he was about 8-years-old. He said he was with the program until he was about 16-years-old.

It just happened this year that the two teammates had the same goals and ideas of what they wanted to gain from a season. They've been traveling all summer long and Ferrell says he loves the cowboy lifestyle.

"We've made it fun -- the best way to say it is that we've made it more of a hobby, a hobby that we do every weekend," Ferrell said. "Some guys make it both a hobby and a living, and they're out there every single day working hard trying to make it in the business. We're not trying to do that. We're trying to keep it fun, and just travel the circuit."

Ferrell said the two have traveled all over the country this season already. "We have traveled mainly in the northern states," he said. "We go a lot to Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We're heading out this weekend for two days in Minnesota, and after that we'll spend two days in Iowa. That's the lifestyle."

Ferrell said that he and Fowler have made a lot of good friends on the circuit because most of the guys travel to the same events that they do.

"There's about 20-30 guys that travel this circuit, and we never would have met them if it hadn't been for our lifestyle," Ferrell said. "That's been one of my favorite things. It's great to see new places every week and meet all kinds of new people."

The team has high hopes for the Jaycee Rodeo. They have been working hard, and capturing a few wins this season already, and would love to win one in front of their home crowd.

When asked what kids could do if they would like to follow in his footsteps, Ferrell said, "First of all, get a good, solid, older horse. Older horses tend to know what is going on. Also, get involved in the 4-H program. 4-H rodeos and high school rodeos are the best places to start. Just try to get a good understanding of what is going on everywhere, because it can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing, or if you don't have a good idea of what's going on all around you."

More information on Missouri 4-H programs and high school rodeos can be found at http://4h.missouri.edu, and at http://highschoolrodeo.missouri.org.